Chapter 7 Hermeneutics, Politics, and Liberalism in Islamic Modernity: Beyond Populism

In: The Spirit of Populism
Author: Fatima Tofighi

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Abstract

Despite internal disagreements, populist far-right discourse seems to share the assumption that political development in Muslim-majority countries requires a change within Islamic liberal culture, comparable to the Reformation in Christianity. Many Islamist and post-Islamist thinkers have also tried to move on this path, which extends from Islamic political culture to political structure by way of hermeneutics. In this chapter, Fatima Tofighi assesses this claim through an analysis of Islamist and post-Islamist readings of certain themes in the Qurʾan. Tofighi argues that the idea that Islamic hermeneutics needs to develop liberal reading strategies rests on the assumption that pre-modern readings of the Qurʾan are prone to violence. This assumption is rejected in an analysis of the reception history of a Qurʾanic passage often related to domestic violence. Both modern and pre-modern interpreters show surprisingly similar reading strategies, which in many cases escape the literality of the text. Questioning over-arching patterns, Tofighi evaluates common assumptions about the relation between hermeneutics, politics, and the culture and structure of liberalism.

The Spirit of Populism

Political Theologies in Polarized Times

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